CEOs Shuffled as Morningstar Shake-up Continues

December 12, 2000 ( - Stepping in to shore up the bottom line, Morningstar founder and Chairman Joe Mansueto has taken back his CEO title at the mutual fund rating provider - stripping Don Phillips of the title he assumed in 1998.

The move comes on the heels of the October departure of Jim Wironen, chief of Morningstar’s fledgling retirement division.

Timothy Armour has also relinquished the president ‘s title and his broader operating responsibilities, but will continue to oversee institutional accounts as managing director, according to reports.

Phillips, the high-profile mutual fund commentator who played a major role in establishing Morningstar’s brand, will remain a managing director and continue to act as the firm’s public face. He will, however, shed responsibilities for day-to-day operations, according to Crain’s Chicago Business, which first reported the story.

Tao Huang, who had run the company’s international division, has been named chief operating officer, a new position according to the WSJ.

“It would be a little bit awkward if I was running around doing things if I didn’t have the title,” Mr. Mansueto told the Wall Street Journal. Mansueto plans to focus initially on controlling costs.

Web Worries

While Morningstar’s core business of selling mutual-fund data and analysis to investors remains continues to pull its weight, the firm’s Internet initiatives are reportedly dragging things down.

According to the WSJ, Mansueto acknowledged that Morningstar’s Internet investments have pushed the company into a loss for the year, without disclosing a specific figure. This despite revenues for the year that are anticipated to come in at $69 million versus $51 million a year ago.

Morningstar’s Clear Future online retirement-planning service is likely to be broadened to include all kinds of online financial advice, as the firm steps up those efforts.

Morningstar sold a 20% stake to Japan’s Softbank for $91 million in July of 1999, in an effort to acquire additional funding for its Internet ventures. However, Mansueto told the WSJ that deal had nothing to do with the management changes.